A Union Pacific train struck a parade float carrying wounded veterans and their spouses at an event in Midland, Texas, yesterday afternoon, killing four servicemen, ABC News reported. The accident sent a total of 17 people to the hospital, one of whom remains in critical condition today.
Army SGM Gary Stouffer, 37, and Army SGM Lawrence Boivin, 47, were pronounced dead at the scene, and Army SGT Joshua Michael, 34, and Army SGM William Lubbers, 43, died later at Midland Memorial Hospital, according to Fox News.
The train plowed into the 18-wheeled flatbed truck transporting the veterans, some of whom were in wheelchairs, as it drove over the tracks at a crossing, Fox News reported.
"The train honked its horn, but the 18-wheeler could not go anywhere because of the other one (truck) being right in front of it," Daniel Quinonez, who was waiting in his vehicle as the parade went by, told Fox News. "It was a horrible accident to watch happen right in front of me. I just saw the people on the semi-truck's trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer. But it was too late for many of them."
Witness Hamid Vatankhah, a used-car lot owner, suggested to ABC News that sirens from police cars in the parade may have blocked the noise of the oncoming train.
Two of the men killed in the accident, Michael and Boivin, pushed their wives out of danger during the crash, ABC News reported.
Michael had received two Purple Hearts while completing two tours of duty in Iraq, his family said. "He pushed his wife off the float – my daughter," Michael’s mother-in-law Mary Hefley told the Amarillo Globe-News, according to ABC News. "He was that kind of guy. He always had a smile on his face. He would do for others before he would do for himself."
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